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Organisers meet with immigration over TM30 petition – full report

The Thaiger

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Organisers meet with immigration over TM30 petition – full report | The Thaiger
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(This post, re-published with permission, has been edited by The Thaiger to clear up the grammar and spelling without changing any of the intentions or meanings. Here it is, in full…)

Yesterday, I met the Officer Longtor at Korat immigration. He was very nice, very polite and we had a conversation in Thai. I had with me a copy of the petition made by a group of expats and Thai people, a translation, some examples of problems related to TM30, statistics and an interpreter in case I could not fully understand. The interpreter was also a witness of everything that was said.

I live in Thailand since 2004. I have permanent residency and do not need to make Form TM30, form TM47 or a yearly extension. If I helped this group of expats with the petition, it is because I feel the current system needs to improve. It was recently reported that Australians and British are coming less to Thailand because of the high value of the baht. It was reported that Scandinavian are also about 10% less living in the land of smiles as before.

The current systems seems a mess and foreigners don’t know what to do. I don’t do this for exposure and spent an incredible amount of time on this project. I manage a law firm in Thailand, and know how things work in Thailand. Often you need connections and I work on difficult cases each month. I was pretty well placed to try something new with a group of people on Facebook. A closed group. I work with Thai lawyers every day even if visas are not our specialty. We are more litigators and make contracts and documents in Thai and English.

Recently, I was told that foreign teachers traveling in other provinces on weekends had to report to immigration Monday morning so even Thai students were penalised by the strict enforcements of sections 37 and 38 of the immigration act. Like the Bangkok Post mentioned this week, Thailand is shooting itself in the foot and the expats are furious about these rules that we find draconian.

It is Thai tradition to discuss, negotiate and not to confront people. The petition is a way to show discomfort and open a dialogue with authorities. It is not a perfect document, some complaints about the English (I am a French native speaker – the first version was edited), some complained it was not going far enough (talking about help insurance or amounts required but we can not fix everything), some complained about the SSL security of the website (added).

In other words, many pissed me off all week whilst all I was doing was trying to help others, knowing what I was doing.

I am not perfect (nobody is) but nobody had the guts to do it and many feared to sign the petition thinking they could be deported. I personally helped to change some laws in Canada, i am not afraid to expose what I think. I sued immigration twice (never for fun) in administrative court with success and I felt that our voice needed to be listened to. So with the help of hundreds of people, we made this petition. Yes, hundreds of people helped to correct, make this website, commented on the website, translated in Thai and much more. I couldn’t see what else could be done?

You want to contest articles 37 and 38 of immigration act based on clause 34 of the constitution? Well, good luck. Talking directly to Bangkok immigration is the next step…. but things in Thailand move slowly. Mediators, arbitrators, negotiations are often used in court and starting, by talking to local immigration on the back of few thousands signatures, was the best idea we had.

It became quickly the talk of the town in English medias: Richard Barrow, frontpage of Bangkok Post, illustration of Stephff, The Thaiger, the Thai Examiner, Pattaya News, etc. I was amazed it went so quick but I was expecting more signatures. The website is still there, “Reform-Thai-immigration” and we hope you sign, share and things go faster.

Here’s a summary of the conversation of yesterday with immigration:

We were told that tourists are not affected by these rules. They want the same as before. But AirBNB must report foreign guests just like hotels. Immigration understand that expats brings a lot of money to Thailand. But they seem to see two problems:

A) there is a large proportion of workers from Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar – something like 3 million in the country. And often they do not respect the rules and regulations. That is a major problem for immigration. Rules are enforced for them but as there is only one law, it affects foreigners from western countries.

B) it seems that Indian people abuse some rules – arrived, for example, in Phuket, got fake marriages with Thai ladies, and disappeared into other provinces. TM 30 started to be enforced especially for them, to be able to trace where criminals or people abusing the system are. I do understand terrorists won’t provide their addresses and I pointed this out. Still, immigration seems to be strict on TM30 and TM30, once registered, is the responsibility of the Thai landlord.

Each immigration office can have its own rules, which I think is a headache and nonsense. But this ‘high ranking’ officer explained to us how he wants them applied in Korat. If you are not a tourist and arrive from abroad, even if articles 37 and 38 talk about 24 hours, they will give you 7 days to register the TM30. Foreigners have to register TM30 only ONCE (and not tourists) and after, it is the duty of the Thai landlord. If you leave in Thailand for a while and never registered TM30, you will be fined as a foreigner. I believe it is between 800 to 2,000 baht.

Once you are registered in the system, it is the Thai landlord (or hotel), and NOT the foreigner that will pay the fines. I STRONGLY suggest the Thai landlords to ask for a RECEIPT for ANY FINE and it is the duty of immigration to provide these receipts. We all know about ‘corruption’ and we should all fight it, slowly, to make this place better.

Now if you look at clause 37 (4) of the immigration act, a foreigner that goes to another province for 24 hours must report to authorities. This was never been enforced to my knowledge and in Nakhon Ratchasima they don’t care about that. They care about the TM6 that you made when you arrived in Thailand (airport), the registration of TM30 that you make once, the 90 days notice (TM47) that you make if you live 90 days in Kingdom and your yearly extension.

Two great pieces of news:

1) There is a committee to modify the immigration laws already in place. But changing laws take time. The head of immigration in Korat is part of that committee and they know some changes must be made. They want to make it easier for foreigners. I even talk about the high value of the baht and they know it makes problems for some retirees.

2) But the best news is a document, an order signed on August 5, 2019 that I saw. They didn’t allow me to make a copy as it is an internal document. It is an order from Bangkok to make an application online for all forms, to simplify things. That means TM6, TM30, TM47, will all be online, accessible on your phone and you won’t have to go to immigration. You will only have to go once a year to immigration for your extension. August 5 was the same day that the Bangkok Post made a frontpage with “Furore over TM30 forms”. Sincerely, I think they did listen to us and the petition helped. It is a coincidence?

Other comments were said but again, it can be different depending on the immigration office you live. In Korat, they told us that if we go to Pattaya for a weekend we don’t have to report. This is clearly against the articles 37 and 38, but I think immigration understand that they do not want to hurt tourism. But if you do go abroad, yes, your landlord must report TM30 on your return.

If you go sleeping at your friends house, outside the province, this officer told us not to bother with reporting and paperwork… that is also against the rules, but if you think about it, who could know if you sleep in your friend’s house.

This is different from hotels, or landlords, and are the ones that must report you. Again, 37(4) is not enforced according to immigration.

Let’s hope this online application works well and comes quickly. On that, we have no assurance.

The current system is confusing. There are too many forms, too many rules and I clearly explained that. Immigration could explain the rules on their websites and apply them the same way in each office. That would be a great improvement.

I would like to note that in the last 10 days some individuals have tried to block our initiative. Some make money by helping others having visas and they have interest to keep the rules complicated and unclear. That is a shame. If you want to develop tourism, investment and economy, make things clear.

We were told also that because there is a new government, new cabinet, things are now slower.

On August 15, the FCC is planning a panel on TM30 and immigration rules. Foreign journalist will be invited and the subject might hit the news again. We were told that if the FCC wants an immigration officer there, they need to write a letter to immigration. I should be there if this panel is still happening.

No name of anybody who helped, signed the petition, or contributed, was named. You can share this post, copy it and provide the information to whoever you want. If you think something is wrong in the following text, let me know. Thanks.

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Expats

MSG makes a comeback with a new campaign against the ‘Chinese restaurant syndrome’

The Thaiger

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MSG makes a comeback with a new campaign against the ‘Chinese restaurant syndrome’ | The Thaiger
PHOTO: MSG got a bad rap for 50 years - bostonmagazine.com

MSG, or monosodium glutamate, a common seasoning in many foods from Doritos, to salad-dressing and Thai food, is making a come back. Not that it really went away. But there was 50 years or so when it suffered, unreasonably, a poor reputation.

For years it was branded an unhealthy processed ingredient despite a lack of supporting scientific evidence. It became the whipping boy of Chinese restaurants with people alleging they would suffer from symptoms like dizziness and palpitations after eating Chinese food seasoned with MSG. It even earned the nickname “Chinese restaurant syndrome”.

The Merriam-Webster even added “Chinese restaurant syndrome” to its dictionaries from 1993 after it became somewhat of an urban legend such that it became excepted that a lot of Chinese food contained MSG and that it was, somehow, bad for you. Despite hundreds of studies there has never been any repeatable experiments where it could be proven that monosodium glutamate was bad for consumer’s health or could repeat the alleged side-effects in control groups.

It all started when a biochemist wrote a letter to the New England Journal of Science in 1968 saying that Chinese restaurant food left him “lightheaded and with odd aches and pains”. The next issue of the journal published more purported side-effects.

That grew into a meme that Chinese food was dangerous for you and spread quickly, and even gained some early legitimacy by some medical professionals at the time. A 1969 scientific paper claimed that MSG was “the cause of the Chinese restaurant syndrome,” and said it caused “burning sensations, facial pressure, and chest pain.”

Subsequent scientific studies over the next half century have never been able to validate the 1969 paper’s claims or find any link between the white salt-like substance and any side effects. Studies suggest that any correlation on side effects from eating MSG were probably psychosomatic.

MSG was first introduced in 1908 by a Japanese chemist Kikunae Ikeda, who was able to isolate unique flavour of a popular broth made from a seaweed called kombu. Ikeda described the flavour as neither salty, sweet, sour or bitter. It was unique. The taste came from the glutamate in the seaweed and earned the new, “fifth taste” which would be called “umami”, neither salty, sweet, sour or bitter.

But MSG has been used as an active ingredient in many Asian foods, not the least Thai food where the white crystals are sprinkled liberally on favourite Thai dishes from the street stalls to the hi-so restaurants.

Now there’s a campaign, “Redefine CRS” headed by Japanese food and seasoning company Ajinomoto to reflect the current knowledge about MSG and the impact of misinformation on the public’s perception of Asian cuisine.

The whole Chinese Restaurant Syndrome was a western construct and never became a ‘thing’ in Asia. So Ajinomoto are calling out the half century of misinformation as “racist”. If MSG was actually dangerous or could conjour up it’s reputed side effects a long list of Asian countries and their populations would be walking around complaining about it.

“To this day, the myth around MSG is ingrained in America’s consciousness, with Asian food and culture still receiving unfair blame. Chinese Restaurant Syndrome isn’t just scientifically false, it’s xenophobic.”

In a video several Asian American figures, restaurateurs, and medical professionals spoke out against the misconceptions surrounding MSG and Chinese food. Famed restaurateur Eddie Huang, whose memoir was adapted into the hit sitcom “Fresh Off the Boat points out that MSG is not only delicious but found in hundreds of commonly used foods we use every day.

“Calling it Chinese restaurant syndrome is really ignorant.”

The campaign proposes a redefinition of “Chinese restaurant syndrome”… “an outdated term that falsely blamed Chinese food containing MSG, or monosodium glutamate, for a group of symptoms.”

Chances are, you’ve eaten it. You light be eating it right now as you snack and scroll through your phone. MSG is a common amino acid naturally found in foods like tomatoes and cheese, which people then figured out how to extract and ferment. This fermented glutamate salt is now used to flavour lots of different foods like stews or chicken stock and seasoning.

A joint study by the World Health Organisation and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation “failed to confirm a link between MSG and the ‘Chinese Restaurant Syndrome’. The syndrome itself was based on “anecdotal” evidence rather than any scientific fact.”

As the new campaign points out, the public scare over MSG unfairly placed the blame on Chinese food. That myth persists in many western countries where Chinese food as is sometimes considered processed, unclean, or unhealthy.

So, head down to your local Chinese restaurant and thoroughly enjoy your meal because it tastes great, along with all the other Asian cuisines you love. If you feel ‘icky, bloated and tingly’ after your meal it’s not the MSG, you probably just ate or drank too much.

As a side note, The Thaiger was involved in an experiment six years ago in Phuket when we had two control groups of three people. The six people were sat down and told we wanted to measure the effects of MSG in their food. All were given a standard Pad Thai Goong. One group was told the meal had been prepared with MSG, the other without MSG. In the interviews after, the group who ate the food prepared with MSG noted they had ‘tingling around their lips’, ‘feeling of flush cheeks’ and ‘racing heartbeat’.

The other group, who were told their meals were prepared without MSG, had no complaints.

Then everyone was told that, in fact, the meals had been switched, so that the group who thought they had consumed MSG had eaten a Pad Thai Going without any MSG.

Hardly a scientifically-validated study but an indication how we can be easily convinced to believe anything.

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Bangkok

Call centre raid in Bangkok – French citizens arrested

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Call centre raid in Bangkok – French citizens arrested | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Immigration Police chief Lt-General Sompong Chingduang - The Nation

Ten French citizens have been arrested on charges of working illegally at an international call centre in Bangkok. Immigration officials were acting on a tip off and had already obtained a court-authorised search warrant to enter the building on Soi Thong Lor 25 in Wattana, central Bangkok. The building was a four-storey house modified for office work.

Speaking to the media yesterday Immigration Police chief Lt-General Sompong Chingduang says the officers seized laptop computers and signal transmission devices for communicating with overseas clients.

They arrested ten French nationals – seven men and three women. 9 of them had entered the country on tourist visas and had not upgraded their visas to business visas. They were charged with working without a legal work permit. The 10th had a work visa but was for an occupation unrelated to running an online business. He was charged with working outside an “authorised field” in his work permit.

The suspects told police they’d been working in Thailand for about a month, dealing with French clients and some in Belgium.

“They told their clients they were agents for a Singaporean company that facilitated money transfers and taxation services. They usually worked afternoons and early evenings to align with office hours in Europe,” according to police.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Expats

Two new SV 14 boats donated to Disabled Sailing Thailand in Phuket

The Thaiger

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Two new SV 14 boats donated to Disabled Sailing Thailand in Phuket | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Arnaud C. Verstraete and Peter Jacops celebrate the launch of the new boats for disabled sailors in Phuket

Two new sailing boats have been added to the Phuket fleet of Disabled Sailing Thailand. Two boats have been launched, the S\V Arnaud 1 and S\V Arnaud 2, named after long-time Phuket expat and philanthropist, Arnaud C. Verstraete.

The two 14 foot S\V14 sailing dinghies are designed to be sailed by people with disabilities and will support Disabled Sailing Thailand’s goal to make sailing a sport easily accessible for everyone.

Arnaud kindly donated them to Disabled Sailing Thailand and was present to celebrate their launching in Phuket recently.

“I’ve been following Disabled Sailing Thailand with interest for some time. What they are doing, providing opportunities to people with disabilities that never before existed, is a great thing and something I am proud to support. It’s not only about sailing though, it’s about building people’s self-confidence and giving people with disabilities the feeling of freedom and enjoyment.”

Disabled Sailing Thailand was established in 2015 with the aim to provide people with disabilities the opportunity to experience sailing in a safe environment, empowering them and giving them the freedom and mobility on-the-water that is often lacking in their lives onshore.

The availability of these boats in Phuket is part of an ongoing effort to make the island a more accessible destination for people with disabilities. They will appeal to international travellers with disabilities who are looking for safe and accessible activities to enjoy while traveling, as well as to professional Para Sailors from around the world who can now come and train in Phuket.

Disabled Sailing Thailand’s Founder, Peter Jacops says the kind donation of the two brand-new S\V14s by Arnaud will make a big difference to sailing in Phuket.

“Currently, there are very few boats in Thailand that are suitable for para sailors and the S\V14 is a perfect sailing dinghy for novice or professional. These two new boats means our fleet in Phuket now totals four and we will be able to offer more fun sailing opportunities for people with disabilities on the island.”

For more information about Disabled Sailing Thailand and the S\V14, visit disabledsailingthailand.org and sv14.org

Two new SV 14 boats donated to Disabled Sailing Thailand in Phuket | News by The ThaigerTwo new SV 14 boats donated to Disabled Sailing Thailand in Phuket | News by The ThaigerTwo new SV 14 boats donated to Disabled Sailing Thailand in Phuket | News by The Thaiger

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